Instep Today

Alien Panda Jury on the misconception behind electronic music

Instep Today
By Maheen Sabeeh
Fri, 07, 19

Daniel Arthur Panjwaneey talks to Instep about music matters including creeping conservatism, his new EP and Soundistan.

Daniel Arthur Panjwaneey, who makes music under the moniker of Alien Panda Jury, has released a new EP called Enneagram via Berlin based label, Noland, started by the Teichmann brothers. Presently working as an audio engineer at A for Aleph – where Lahore-based music group Takatak recently recorded their material - he is also a member of the prog-rock music group, The D/A Method. While work on the group’s third album has begun, his past projects include Lussun TV, Karachi Files, Coke Studio, a full-length shoegaze record and an EP with Orangenoise, an appearance on Uth Records. He was also in a band called Messiah that appeared on the first season of Pepsi Battle of the Bands that was judged by Rohail Hyatt, Shahi Hasan and Fifi Haroon.

In the summer of 2017, he was selected for Border Movement Residency (BMR), which took him the Karachi-based electronic artist to Germany for two months.

In other words, his association with music and the subculture movement has been significant with years of experience.

We’re sitting and discussing whether Pakistan has become the bedrock of creeping conservatism, now more than ever.

But Daniel, known among friends and family as Danny P, doesn’t think so. “There are different streams,” says Daniel. “The conservative mindset has been there since the nineties when Nawaz Sharif banned people from coming on TV with long hair and jeans.”

But Daniel is not as skeptical as me, and others. “Our first purpose, right now, is to create content,” he says of A for Aleph.

Co-founder of the Nepal-based festival Sine Valley, Daniel notes that Sine Valley is, for now, on hold. “Mainly it’s because of economic reasons. It’s really expensive to go to Nepal now.”

Daniel has also been involved with Soundistan, playing shows in places such as Thailand. Explaining the Soundistan ethos, Daniel tells Instep, “Soundistan started in Thailand. And basically there’s this guy there who is trying to get musicians from all around Asia – just focusing on Asia to get together and play music.”

He continues: “He’s been booking Pakistani artists and Indian artists, from Philippines, Taiwan and stuff like that. He brings them to Bangkok to play gigs. So, it’s been a pretty cool exchange. He wants to bring some artists from Thailand to Pakistan so we might be doing that later on in the year – with the ‘Oscillations’ things I do.”

Is that a regular thing?

“I want it to become a regular thing and do at least four shows a year so that’s one every quarter,” says Daniel, “but it’s a bit difficult to find a place and then make it financially feasible enough to pull it off. Plus, we also have to go through a lot of crowd filtration and know what kind of people are coming to our show(s). For some reason, electronic music and recklessness seem to go hand in hand. It’s kind of portrayed like that around the world but our focus is more on the music. So, that’s what we want to try and do and hopefully we can try and bring the Soundistan guys over here and its one big, happy family from all over Asia, that’s what Soundistan is… a group of artists who know each other because of it.”

Daniel spoke about his latest EP, Enneagram that mercifully does not feature your average EDM-type music but falls within the vast electronic category. Was that by design?

“Yes, it was by design,” he says, before explaining the misconception about electronic music. “It is not just beats; you see that’s the thing, electronic music is very misunderstood. It isn’t always beats like dhag dhag dhag dhag. It’s not about that. There are many different kind of electronic artists making polyrhythms or who are making ambient music or making psychedelic music using synthesizers. The perception that electronic music is dance music is wrong.”

Does the new EP of Alien Panda Jury cater to Pakistan or is it meant for an international audience?

“I don’t actually care about the numbers when it comes to my own music [as Alien Panda Jury]. When I look at my bandcamp stats, I have listeners from here; I have listeners in Abbottabad and Quetta from Pakistan at least. And then I have listeners sitting in Germany, New York, Poland, Netherlands, Nepal, Thailand, so it really doesn’t matter as long as you put it somewhere where it is accessible to everyone. If they like it, they’ll buy it and listen to it. I don’t know if I make sense to Pakistani listeners. Just this year alone, I haven’t played in Pakistan at all. I’m lucky I’m getting international shows but I don’t expect people to like my music neither will I try to force it on them. For me, its personal, especially Enneagram because it was more about refiguring myself out so very selfishly I made that music for myself. So, the numbers don’t matter.”